Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Breathtaking Tefuye Old Trail in Taiwan

When it comes to Alishan (阿里山) in Taiwan, most people tend to think of its cherry blossoms, millennia-old red cypresses, beautiful sunrises, and the iconic forest railway. However, The Tefuye Old Trail (特富野古道) is also a must-visit destination that many visitors wouldn’t want to miss when visiting the Alishan National Scenic Area.

Watch the following video of Tefuye Old Trail (特富野古道) in southern Taiwan:

Located in the foothills of Shueishan Mountain (水山) in southern Taiwan’s Chiayi County, this 6.32-kilometer-long popular hiking trail was transformed from an abandoned railway and an old hunting trail.

The Tefuye Old Trail was transformed from an abandoned railway and an old hunting trail. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)
The Tefuye Old Trail was transformed from an abandoned railway and an old hunting trail. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)

The railway was constructed in 1910 by the Japanese during the Japanese Colonial Period (1895-1945) for the purpose of transporting lumber in that area, and the hunting trail was built by the Tsou tribe (鄒族) for their livelihood.

There are many steps on wooden ties along Tefuye Old Trail. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)
There are many steps along Tefuye Old Trail. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)

The first 3.7 kilometers is an abandoned railway with lush green forests and is a rather easy walk. The remaining 2.62 kilometers is rather hard to hike as there are approximately 2,000 steps along the way, including many railroad tie steps. Therefore, most people return at the 3.7-kilometer mark. With diverse landscapes in all four seasons, the last section is a great location for birdwatching.

Hikers can get a sense of the true beauty of Alishan National Scenic Area. (Image: Julia Fu / Nspirement)
Hikers can get a sense of the true beauty of Alishan National Scenic Area while on the trail. (Image: Julia Fu / Nspirement)

In addition to its historical significance, the Tefuye Old Trail features a peacock pine plantation (柳杉人工林), which is one of the most typical forest forms in the scenic area. All the trees are tall, stately, and graceful, with straight, reddish-brown trunks.

Peacock pine plantation (柳杉人工林) is one of the most typical forest forms in the Alishan National Scenic Area. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)
The peacock pine plantation (柳杉人工林) is one of the most typical forest forms in the Alishan National Scenic Area. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)

Peacock pine is also called Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) or Japanese redwood (日本柳杉). There were nearly 30 million peacock pine trees planted by the Japanese starting in 1911 following the clearcutting of the Taiwan red cypress and camphor trees by the Japanese.

There are some places where hikers can rest to recuperate along the way. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)
There are several places along the trail where hikers can rest along the way. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)

The peacock pine is lightweight, strong, and resistant to decay. It is thus widely used for posts for traditional Japanese tea houses and interior paneling in Japan. However, due to Taiwan’s humid subtropical climate, the peacock pine grows more quickly in Taiwan, where it reaches its senescent period in about 15 to 20 years.

 The mossy and foggy environment mixes well with the Peacock pine plantation at Tefuye. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)
The mossy and foggy environment creates a relaxing atmosphere along the trail. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)

Since the quality of the peacock pine trees planted in Taiwan is not as good as that of the trees planted in Japan, it doesn’t have much economic value here. As a result, many experts believe that Taiwan’s centennial peacock pine plantation practice was a failed policy. Nevertheless, the awesomeness of the peacock pine plantation adds much beauty to the historic trail.

Tefuye Old Tail is a great place for hikers to get a sense of the true beauty of Alishan. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)
Tefuye Old Tail is a great place for hikers to get a sense of the true beauty of Alishan. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)

Today, stumps of Taiwan’s red cypress can still be spotted along the Tefuye Old Tail, which reminds visitors of Taiwan’s red cypress logging long ago.

Many stumps of Taiwan red cypress can still be spotted along Tefuye Old Tail. (Image: Julia Fu / Nspirement)
Many stumps of Taiwan’s red cypress can still be spotted along the Tefuye Old Tail. (Image: Julia Fu / Nspirement)

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Billy Shyu
Billy has a liking for the beauty of nature and authentic traditonal culture. He has published over 100 articles on the beauty of Taiwan, traditional culture, and other interesting topics. He will continue to share more interesting articles with our readers
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